Murphy, Himes Lead Roundtable on Gun Control

The panel met in Stamford to discuss how Connecticut residents, community leaders and politicians can push for change to state and national legislation.


Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes joined local and state politicians, law enforcement officials and mental health advocates Thursday afternoon at the Yerwood Center in Stamford for a roundtable discussion on reducing gun violence in the city and the rest of Connecticut's urban areas and ongoing efforts to change gun and assault weapon legislation both on the state and national level in reaction to the Sandy Hook shootings.

According to Murphy, the roundtable, which included Rep. William Tong (D-141), Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau, CT State Police Major Bill Podgorski and Sherry Perlstein, executive director of Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, would serve as a conversation starter "to make sure that the laws we pass make the likelihood of shootings [like Sandy Hook] lower" and reduce the amount of "men and women in Stamford and across this state that are gunned down."

Murphy told attendees that he believes if Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza had to stop sooner to reload his weapon, more lives might have been spared.

"Clearly, in my mind, there is no reason why anyone should have access to a military-style assault weapon or a magazine clip that holds 30 or 100 bullets," he said. "I believe in my heart that there would be little boys and girls still alive today in Sandy Hook, Connecticut if the federal assault weapons ban was still in place and if that young man re-armed himself every 10 bullets instead of every 30 bullets."

Murphy also said that if Lanza would have had access to proper mental health services, the outcome of Dec. 14, 2012 might have been different.

"We have a system that directs an enormous number of errors, especially for young adults that want to seek help and for parents that want to seek help for their children," he said. "And so we need to have a conversation about how we can better make sure that there are resources available for those who have [mental] illness and may be prone to violence."

Himes said that advocating for tougher gun control laws is a "heck of a challenge" but if politicians, community leaders and residents work together, they could have enough impact to change the legislation locally and nationally. He warned attendees, however, about the "inflamed radical other side" that believes banning assault weapons violates the Constitution and specifically referred to his challenge of Texas Governor Rick Perry's views on gun safety and ownership.

"There is the possibility of changing the discussion at the national level because, frankly, the discussion is insane... The policy is insane nationally..." he said. "Any effort to have that commonsensical discussion about whether in fact anybody needs a 30-round clip is not acceptable. And the reason that discussion is not acceptable is because if the opponents of reasonable measures to reduce gun violence are forced into a discussion that is fact-based and data driven, they have not one piece of ground to stand on—nothing."

Treating Adolescents with Mental Illness

The discussion later turned to improving and increasing mental health services for students and their families and removing the existing stigma that those suffering from mental illness are more prone to violence.

Daniella Giordano, public policy director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) CT, told attendees that the state and the country needs to start looking at mental health illness as something that not only affects those that are afflicted and their loved ones, but everyone.

"It's about our children, it's about our communities that we all deeply care about..." she said. "And, first of all, it's about stepping away from who is affected by mental health issues. It's about all of us—whether it's someone that we care about who's struggling with something—including now the people in the Sandy Hook community and everyone in Connecticut, in the nation and the world. We need to think about this differently and not make this direct connection between people who have mental health challenges and violence because that absolutely not accurate... People with mental issues are much more likely to be victims of violence..."

Mirroring initiatives in President Obama's proposal to Congress addressing mental illness, the panelists also discussed the need for fully funded community-based health centers across nation, as well as funding to train mental health professionals so that adolescents aren't placed on waiting list to be diagnosed and treated.

Joe Blow January 20, 2013 at 03:35 PM
More "feel good" politics. Do you know how many people were killed with a rifle in the state of Connecticut in 2011? ONE. Try enforcing the current laws on the books and stop passing laws that infringe upon law abiding citizens.
Robert Williams January 21, 2013 at 02:32 AM
The answer to "who needs a semi-automatic rifle and large magazines" has been answered a thousand times, ad naseum. The problem with the anti-gun side, they don’t listen and they don’t care about the facts. They are all right there, open your eyes, your ears and stop being so one sided. They are the ones that are lacking in facts. Example, they (the gun grabbers) keep saying that the NRA and gun rights folks are against background checks. This is blatantly false, I challenge you to find one law abiding citizen that is against background checks for a gun purchase.
Craig Zac January 21, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Uhhhggggg Mirphey... he was on his Twitter page..(well for Murphy, it's a "Twit" page..lol) and he made some post like "6XX gun related deaths since Newtown..." and it really P'D me off cause its like this Ghoul is keeping some sort of sick, twisted death score!! And talk about being a real D-bag... this guy just hopped right up on the bodies of the victims to use as a sort of stage to get his point across!! I hate it when these political bozos cling to a tragedy as if trying to ride it to there end goal, let it go already Chris, your like a spoiled little baby, we saw it in your schoolyard like campaign with McMahon and now with this. Stop it you disgusting leech!
Craig Zac January 21, 2013 at 12:50 PM
wouldnt it make a bit more sense to toughen the laws on crime in general than to pursue just another fell good, pat yourself on the back, go nowhere law like the War on drugs? I mean, there are tons and tons of gangs in the state, tons of thugs, drug addicts, robbers, muggers, rapists even white collar crimes and criminals yet, these ppl focus on some pie in the sky dream where restricting certain guns and options for guns while the criminal element gets another pass and is still able to go do what it is they always do...commit the real crimes daily. Take THEIR guns away... not ours!
Craig Zac January 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM
...Maybe Malloy shouldnt have closed all those mental health facilities he said we didnt need, or lay off all those state troopers... you cant have it both ways, balance is all over, you take from one side of the scale, the opposite side goes up.
Will Wilkin January 21, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Headline: "I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/opinion/australia-banned-assault-weapons-america-can-too.html?hp&_r=1& EXCERPTS: …what I, as prime minister of Australia, did to curb gun violence following a horrific massacre 17 years ago in the hope that it will contribute constructively to the debate in the United States. …on April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant, a psychologically disturbed man, used a semiautomatic Armalite rifle and a semiautomatic SKS assault weapon to kill 35 people in a murderous rampage in Port Arthur, Tasmania. After this wanton slaughter, I knew that I had to use the authority of my office to curb the possession and use of the type of weapons that killed 35 innocent people. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy. …I could reduce the number of dangerous firearms only by persuading the states to enact uniform laws totally prohibiting the ownership, possession and sale of all automatic and semiautomatic weapons while the national government banned the importation of such weapons. To make this plan work, there had to be a federally financed gun buyback scheme. Ultimately, the cost of the buyback was met by a special one-off tax imposed on all Australians. This required new legislation and was widely accepted across the political spectrum. Almost 700,000 guns were bought back and destroyed — the equivalent of 40 million guns in the United States. (continued below)
Will Wilkin January 21, 2013 at 03:43 PM
(continued) …The fundamental problem was the ready availability of high-powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing. Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. But nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife. …In the end, we won the battle to change gun laws because there was majority support across Australia for banning certain weapons. And today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate. The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996. The American Law and Economics Review found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides by 74 percent. In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms, Australia suffered 13 gun massacres — each with more than four victims — causing a total of 102 deaths. There has not been a single massacre in that category since 1996. Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control. ------------------------------ John Howard was prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007. END EXCERPTS
Craig Zac January 21, 2013 at 03:59 PM
interesting he uses the word "Scheme" makes it sound underhanded and shady... "To make this plan work, there had to be a federally financed gun buyback scheme" But then, what works in another country may not work here... for its not so much as a semi automatic weapon thats to blame as it is the "Easy access" to them by disturbed people. One would think that others who use these types of weapons in murders, crimes and other illegal deeds are more than likely, on some level, dangerous, crazy, have mental or psychological problems.. social outcasts and the like... How do they get these weapons so easily? I mean if one mad man can get them, any mad man can. I can think of only one sure fire way to stop all the madness, if you are going to remove every semi-auto firearm its got to be a full house cleaning sweep... they need to all be removed, from EVERYONE, citizens, police, military, the makers would have to be shut down, no more can be made or purchased, for any reason, by any one being it a government, nation, police.... and everytime one is found, it shall be destroyed and the person in posession be locked up for good. As long as they are produced, they will be on the streets and if you take them away from the law abiding citizens, then how do we protect ourselves when the bloods and the crips and whomever comes a knocking?
JYD January 21, 2013 at 04:22 PM
An argument for every argument... http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/19/america-dont-repeat-australias-gun-control-mistake/ My takeaway is if I wanted to be like Australia, England, or any other country, I would just move there. Stop using every other place in the world as the ideal example of your argument, whether it be pro or con. Deal with the problems here in the US in a way that doesn't take away the rights from the lawful, rewards the criminals, and leaves our innocent unprotected. There is a middle ground if people could just take a step away from the partisan rhetoric.
Will Wilkin January 21, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Hello JYD, The Daily Caller article you link overlooks how gun murders and murders in general have decreased in Australia since the 1996 new gun laws and gun buy-back. Also, there have been zero mass shootings there since 1996. The article links gun-control with Hitler, which is not a fair criticism. Gun control advocates in Australia and in the USA have zero sympathy with Hitler's views or policies. Finally, the 36 killings mentioned in the Daily Caller article were all criminal figures in an organized crime feud, hardly representative of the population at large. The ordinary Australian has actually been much safer since Australia's new gun laws and gun buy-back. Hello also to C Zac, I agree that every country is different in history and culture, but that is not a reason to reject comparisons, only to do it thoughtfully. I don't think it is fair to accuse advocates of gun control, whether ordinary citizens or law-makers, as "hopping on the coffins to make a point," as if we want gun control for sinister reasons rather than for the obvious: to stop the mass murders and thousands more individual murders that are committed with guns in America every year. We may disagree on the efficacy of this or that approach, but just as I assume you have good intentions and argue for what you believe is right and best, you should grant those with different views that same respect. Reasonable people will disagree, we should argue the reasoning and not the personalities.
JYD January 21, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Will - I think you missed my point. For every argument you or anyone else can make saying it's so much better somewhere else, there's a counter-argument that can be made. And to make matters more difficult in a media-biased world, neither the NY Times nor the Daily Caller really lend any credibility to one side of the argument or the other.
Craig Zac January 21, 2013 at 07:05 PM
I get what you are saying Will, I just cant stand how alot of the Anti gun ppl are throwing in words like "Newtown CT, Sandy Hook, 20 first graders" when ever they want to talk gun control... isnt it about time they stop trying to use this tragic inncedent as a vehicle to tug at peoples heart strings or pull at there emotions just so they can get their way with the issue? its all just political mind games, not unlike any other propaganda stratagies used at any other times during the history of the world.
Will Wilkin January 21, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Hi C Zac, Actually I was on the gun rights side of the issue until the Sandy Hook shooting. That freaked me out. I never put any energy into the issue before that, and in the days after I started reading and thinking a lot, and came to the conclusions I have because that incident made me ask "what is going on?" I knew mass shootings had become frequent beforehand, but they seemed to be in the west and south, and like any terrible thing we read in the news everyday, a bit abstract and removed. But I know a schoolgirl who went to Sandy Hook, and it made me finally look at the issue seriously. No previous agenda, in fact I was on the gun rights side until then. Now I really don't see the sense in it. What you call propaganda tactic is to me a much-needed look at the real consequences of guns pervading society. Today I read the wikipedia articles on the DC v. Heller and the McDonald v. Chicago cases, and see them as a blow to my reading of the Second Amendment as defending the rights of the states to have militias rather than as individual right for self-defense. That doesn't mean I am persuaded by those rulings, but must recognize they are the SC's stand at this time. I find it interesting it took until 2008 for the Court to rule on whether the 2nd Amendment is an individual or collective (state) right, and hope someday those rulings will be overturned for what I consider to be a much saner view of the place of guns in our society.
CTWilly January 23, 2013 at 11:27 PM
I'm unclear on what evidence or data Mr Himes is basing his position that reducing the size of magazines would somehow reduce the chances of a mass murder. I'm not aware of any such evidence and I really want to know how the magic number is arrived at, is it 10, 7 or what? I think the NY lawmakers used 7 to make most magazines illegal other than that it's just an arbitrary number. So where is his fact based - data driven argument?
JYD January 24, 2013 at 01:56 PM
There is no evidence or data yet. The investigation is still ongoing and nothing has been released to the public. "Murphy told attendees that he believes if Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza had to stop sooner to reload his weapon, more lives might have been spared." That's a scare tactic. I would expect that sort of assessment to come from the CT state police. But since it can only takes seconds to swap a magazine, it may not even be a conclusion that can be drawn. "Murphy also said that if Lanza would have had access to proper mental health services, the outcome of Dec. 14, 2012 might have been different." Quite possible, but again, I don't recall any formal conclusion about Lanza's mental health. The media has done a "great" job building the case and the speculation. But this is also the same media that misidentified the shooter (and number of shooters) to begin with. Political grandstanding before the facts have even been concluded and communicated.
Craig Zac January 24, 2013 at 02:33 PM
"Murphy told attendees that he believes if Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza had to stop sooner to reload his weapon, more lives might have been spared." Does Murph ACTUALY believe that if Lanza had to reload halfway through his rampage these kids would have jumped him and held him for the police or taken his weapons away and used them on him? Really? He could have done just as much damage in the 20 minutes even if he had a 5 shot bolt action 30-30 rifle. Scare, scare, scare... terror tactics to get their way. just like in the olden days of 9/11 with the color chart...lol "todays terror alert is orange... be prepared to hide in the nearest shelter and pry for your life!" Fear is a great method of control, ask the taliban, they know all too well how true this is.


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